Douglass: Civilian agencies stiffed on aerospace R&D

The $19 billion the administration has proposed for funding aerospace R&D in fiscal 2004 'is about right, but only on the Defense Department side,' Aerospace Industries Association chief John W. Douglass said today at a Washington event marking the 100th anniversary of powered flight.

Douglass, a former Air Force brigadier general, said that the R&D budgets for NASA and Federal Aviation Administration 'should be substantially higher, although FAA can draw much of the advanced technology it needs from DOD's research. But I don't think we can revitalize NASA and develop new traffic control' for the allotted $7 billion per year.

'We know we can't fly the shuttle past 2008 or 2010,' he said. 'There's an urgent need to get going on a new vehicle. If we can't get a shuttle replacement under way, what happens to the International Space Station? What president wants to be the one who turns America's back on space' and leaves it to others such as the European Union or China?

Asked whether he considers unmanned Mars exploration more important than returning humans to the moon, he said, 'It's time to talk about going back to the moon first.'

NASA's infrastructure needs updating and its budget has just kept pace with inflation, according to AIA research, whereas FAA's R&D and engineering budgets have continued to decline. Critical aerospace research areas such as propulsion and Global Positioning System modernization are being neglected, the association found.

And, Douglass added, 'We need to increase intelligence budgets to give us advance warning of terror.'

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